HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Neighbors are calling it a filthy problem. The trash collectors said it’s just another side effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Nobody will give us any information and It’s a big health hazard,” said Kelly Sadler, who lives in Hendersonville. “My neighbor right next door to me yesterday sent me pictures of where I’m assuming a rodent had push over her trash can and throwing it all over the front yard.”
Hundreds of residents say the city’s waste collection vendor has been missing trash pickup in several neighborhoods for weeks.
“We have people who have been reporting flies, reporting maggots, wild animals or domestic animals getting into the trash and tearing it up,” said Alderman Scott Sprouse, who was the lone vote against selecting a new vendor.
The city’s board voted to sign a contract with Waste Pro last summer. Mayor Jamie Clary said they’ve averaged hundreds of complaints a month since January, but now the situation is worse than ever before, with a record number of phone calls, emails and text messages.
“What I fear is that it will impact all neighborhoods eventually and that really worries me because some days the company picks up 80% and some days they pick up 70%, we are not real sure how much they pick up,” Mayor Clary said.
In an email to News 2, Waste Pro said all routes would be picked up by this weekend, but that promise was broken. They are doing their best “to stabilize a very difficult situation.”
They sent the following statement:
“Waste Pro is in daily communication with Hendersonville solid waste staff. I think it is important to know, that the United States waste services industry has been severely disrupted by COVID-19. Essential front line waste collection workers are putting their lives at risk at the curb every day. Drivers and helpers are in short supply. Stay-at-home directives have increased residential waste volumes 15 to 40 percent, requiring massive increases in our ability to maintain collection schedules. Many cities and counties are working with waste service providers to combine or reduce services on a temporary basis. Our customers are valued, as are our more than 4,000 employees and their families. We are on the job and will stay on the job, but please have patience during these unprecedented times.”
“I’m going to give them every opportunity and I have given every chance for them to live up to that promise, but if they can’t live up to that promise even with the extra resources they’re saying they’re bringing in, it’s going to be time for us to talk about other solutions and potentially other providers,” Sprouse said.
Mayor Clary wants another company to come in and help, but according to him, it’s not his decision. He says it’s up to the Interim City Administrator, Dave LeMarbre.
LeMarbre told News 2 that the Mayor has sole authority of signing contracts. Hendersonville’s relationship with Waste Pro “is like a marriage, we are in counseling.” They intend on ironing out some details laid out in the five-year contract to avoid problems in the future. For now, their priority is to make sure every home gets picked up.
Sadler is urging city leaders to find a way to work together.
“I’ve been in Hendersonville since I was 6 months old and I don’t understand how a Mayor we voted for to do these types of jobs can’t handle it for us and the City Administrator won’t even speak to us,” said Sadler.